July 18, 2005

The Valerie Plame Non-Scandal

John Tierney has an excellent Op-Ed Column in the New York Times:

The White House felon So far Karl Rove appears guilty of telling reporters something he had heard, that Valerie Wilson, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV, worked for the C.I.A. But because of several exceptions in the 1982 law forbidding disclosure of a covert operative's identity, virtually no one thinks anymore that he violated it. The law doesn't seem to apply to Ms. Wilson because she apparently hadn't been posted abroad during the five previous years. The endangered spies Ms. Wilson was compared to James Bond in the early days of the scandal, but it turns out she had been working for years at C.I.A. headquarters, not exactly a deep-cover position. Since being outed, she's hardly been acting like a spy who's worried that her former contacts are in danger. At the time her name was printed, her face was still not that familiar even to most Washington veterans,but that soon changed. When her husband received a "truth-telling" award at a Nation magazine luncheon, he wept as he told of his sorrow at his wife's loss of anonymity. Then he introduced her to the crowd. And then, for any enemy agents who missed seeing her face at the luncheon but had an Internet connection, she posed with her husband for a photograph in Vanity Fair. The smeared whistle-blower Mr. Wilson accused the White House of willfully ignoring his report showing that Iraq had not been seeking nuclear material from Niger. But a bipartisan report from the Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that his investigation had yielded little valuable information, hadn't reached the White House and hadn't disproved the Iraq-Niger link - in fact, in some ways it supported the link.
Mr. Wilson presented himself as a courageous truth-teller who was being attacked by lying partisans, but he himself became a Democratic partisan (working with the John Kerry presidential campaign) who had a problem with facts. He denied that his wife had anything to do with his assignment in Niger, but Senate investigators found a memo in which she recommended him. Karl Rove's version of events now looks less like a smear and more like the truth: Mr. Wilson's investigation, far from being requested and then suppressed by a White House afraid of its contents, was a low-level report of not much interest to anyone outside the Wilson household.
So what exactly is this scandal about? Why are the villagers still screaming to burn the witch? Well, there's always the chance that the prosecutor will turn up evidence of perjury or obstruction of justice during the investigation, which would just prove once again that the easiest way to uncover corruption in Washington is to create it yourself by investigating nonexistent crimes. For now, though, it looks as if this scandal is about a spy who was not endangered, a whistle-blower who did not blow the whistle and was not smeared, and a White House official who has not been fired for a felony that he did not commit. And so far the only victim is a reporter who did not write a story about it.
This was a good column.

So, why are the Democrats so insistent upon continuing the witchhunt? Well, the Clinton years taught the Democrats that the easiest way to bring down a politician was to shed light on a scandal. Clinton became entangled in several scandals during his tenure in the White House - Whitewater, Filegate, Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky, too name a few. Maybe this is pay back... a tradition in D.C. The thought of bringing down Karl Rove is probably too much to pass up.
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